Portales junior quarterback Chris Mosier escapes defenders while gaining 22 yards to the St. Michael’s 1-yard line late in Saturday’s Class 3A semifinal game in Santa Fe. (Freedom Newspapers: Tony Bullocks)
By Mickey Winfield: Freedom Newspapers
SANTA FE — The Portales Rams unexpected ride through the Class 3A playoffs continues, all the way to the state championship game.
Down by a point late in the fourth quarter in Saturday’s semifinals, junior quarterback Chris Mosier led Portales on a 12-play, 71-yard drive capped by an Eric Segovia 2-yard touchdown run, giving the Rams a 25-20 over St. Michael’s.
The win advances the Rams to Saturday’s 2 p.m. championship game against defending champion and top-seeded Las Vegas Robertson at Greyhound Stadium.
“It’s awesome, it’s so awesome,” Mosier said. “I can’t explain the feeling I’m having right now.”
Senior defensive back Kevin Gonzales made it official, intercepting a St. Mike’s pass with less than a minute left to end the Horsemen’s final bid.
Mosier ran five times for 35 yards on the winning drive, including a 22-yard scamper on fourth-and-5 which put the ball inside the 1-yard line. Segovia scored two plays later.
Segovia dominated on the ground, scoring three touchdowns and gaining 102 yards on 25 carries.
“Eric just runs so hard,” Correll said. “He’s got such a low center of gravity, and he’s so strong — he carried two or three guys on that last touchdown. It’s just good kids making great plays.”
In his third career playoff game, Mosier carried 21 times for 78 yards. He was also efficient when he passed, completing 4-of-5 for 42 yards.
After a scoreless struggle in the opening quarter, the Rams’ defense put the first points on the board when Gonzales picked off a St. Mike’s pass and returned it 35 yards for a touchdown.
“(After) I caught it, I just wanted to get into the end zone,” Gonzales explained. “It gave us big-time (momentum). Scoring first in their place, it just turns the crowd down. It was big.”
Segovia gave the Rams a 13-0 lead with a second-quarter, 2-yard score, but St. Mike’s rallied with two big plays before halftime.
The Horsemen countered when senior running back Robbie Castillo broke open a 57-yard touchdown run. Junior Robert C de Baca then took a Portales punt 70 yards fora score to put St. Mike’s in front 14-13 at halftime.
The third quarter was scoreless, setting up a thrilling final 12 minutes.
Segovia’s 2-yard TD run, ending a 15-play, 76-yard drive, put the Rams back in front with 10 minutes left. St. Mike’s then regained a 20-19 lead with less than six minutes left on a 24-yard scoring run by Castillo.
That was enough time for Mosier’s and Segovia’s heroics.
“It was tremendous,” Correll said about the winning drive. “The kids took it upon their shoulders and made plays. It was a great drive.”
Saturday’s championship clash is a re-match of the season opener — Robertson defeated Portales in Las Vegas 13-2 in late August.
“I can’t be happier for a group of kids that have done nothing but work their cans off,” Correll said. “(We) didn’t get any respect from anybody in the state, and we’re opening eyes right now.”